Co-parenting occurs when two divorced or separated parents collaborate on raising and caring for their children. For many families, co-parenting is one of the ideal options to help children after a divorce. If parents are willing to work with each other, co-parenting offers a lot of benefits for their family if it is done well. If you are navigating the creation of a parenting plan or custody arrangement, a child custody attorney can help you and your co-parent mediate an agreement.
Divorce is certainly hard on parents, but it can be even more difficult for children to go through. After a divorce, kids may respond to their parents in many different ways. Children may lash out, be withdrawn, or even feel at fault for the divorce. Navigating co-parenting during this time is not easy, but it is essential that you do what you can to create a cooperative and healthy environment. That way, you and your co-parent can help your kids heal and grow.
Even if you and your co-parent had an amicable separation, co-parenting your child or children together can be incredibly difficult. Each family will have different needs when co-parenting, but it’s important that you collaborate on a plan together that ensures consistency, care, and safety for your child. Both parents likely have their own emotional burdens after a divorce, but it is important that the focus is on the children and their needs.
There are several things you can focus on to try to improve your co-parenting relationship and navigate conflict.
- Be Aware of Your Own Emotions
It’s very common after a divorce that you may be dealing with pain, grief, anger, and resentment, and these emotions can influence how you co-parent if you are not aware of them. Although they are important as you navigate your needs after a divorce, they should not influence how you cooperate with your co-parent or how you raise your children.
Co-parenting means focusing on your children’s basic needs, comfort, and care. It is not about your feelings or your co-parent’s feelings but ensuring your children’s happiness. Don’t suppress the negative emotions you have, but recognize them, and do not let them impact your children’s lives. Find other ways to express your feelings, such as talking with friends, family, and therapists, or finding different outlets.
- Don’t Involve Children in Disagreements
Co-parents are going to have disputes as they navigate a new relationship and family dynamic. It’s important to discuss and address the issues before resentment influences your children. It’s also important to ensure that your children are not involved in any dispute or disagreement. You should never talk negatively about your co-parent to your kids or make them feel as though they must choose between parents.
While you want to help children know what to expect from this new family layout and how it affects them, you do not want them to be involved in any conflict between their parents. Not only could these actions harm your children, but they may even result in court issues over accusations of parental alienation.
- Learn to Communicate With Your Co-Parent
For successful co-parenting, parents need to be able to communicate, check in, and consistently discuss information for their children’s benefit. Focus on the purpose of this communication, which is your child’s health and safety. Try to keep your discussions purposeful toward this end, and remember that not all communication has to be face-to-face. Maintaining more frequent communication, especially when you begin co-parenting, can help children and both parents.
For some parents, it can be useful to reframe the relationship between co-parents as a business or professional relationship to remain respectful and less personal throughout. When you are more cordial and flexible, your co-parent may reflect the same behavior. Try to limit conflict and work through any disputes you do have. Work with a mediator if you cannot reach a compromise.
Q: How Can I Be a Good Co-Parent After a Divorce?
A: Being a good co-parent after a divorce means putting your child’s needs first. One important element is setting your own emotions aside and working collaboratively with your co-parent. You should both be able to communicate about:
- Your children’s needs
- Your children’s daily schedule
- Changes to schedules
- Keeping consistent and disciplined rules between both houses
- Anything else that is important for your unique family
Keeping healthy and clear communication with your co-parent and working through your disagreements is important to providing for your child’s needs.
Q: What Is the Ideal Split for Co-Parenting?
A: The ideal split for co-parenting depends on your unique family setup and needs. For some families, a 50-50 parenting time split is useful, as it allows kids to spend the same amount of time with each parent and keeps parents on equal ground for being involved and supporting their children. However, this doesn’t work for all families. A 50-50 split often requires parents to live close together and be able to successfully coordinate schedules. Parents should determine a split that works well for their family.
Q: What Should You Not Do as a Divorced Parent?
A: It’s important to never put your kids in the middle of fights between co-parents when you are divorced. Although this may seem obvious, there are a lot of behaviors that can result in kids being caught in a fight. Behaviors to avoid include:
- Talking negatively about your co-parent
- Using your children to transfer messages between parents
- Questioning the relationship between your co-parent and child
- Making your child feel as if they have to choose one parent or the other
Q: What Do You Say to Your Child When You Are Separating?
A: How you tell your child you’re separating will depend on your child’s age and maturity. You want to give them the information they need to understand the situation without oversharing about negative issues. If possible, parents should share the news together. Avoid discussing disputes, and focus on the changes that your child can expect. Answer their questions and reassure them that it is not their fault.
Learning How to Manage Family Changes
Co-parenting can have several benefits for children, but not if parents are unable to cooperate. When you are navigating a divorce or custody arrangement, it is important that you work with a qualified divorce and custody attorney. They can help you advocate for your family’s interests and find a custody solution that works for you. Contact Stange Law Firm today to learn how we can help your family.